Nacogdoche Tribe

Nacogdoche Indians (Na-ko-hodó-tsi). A tribe of the Hasinai confederacy of Texas. It has been said that their language differed from that of the Hasinai group in general, but there is much evidence to indicate that this is not true. For example, Ramón, who founded missions at the Neche, Hainai, Nasoni, and Nacogdoche villages in 1716, states in his report that “these four missions will comprise from four to five thousand persons of both sexes, all of one idiom” 1 . On the same day the missionaries wrote that the Nacogdoche mission “N. S. de Guadalupe is awaiting people of the same language and customs” as those of the Indians of mission Concepción, i. e., the Hainai 2 . In 1752, when the governor of Texas was arranging to inspect the villages of the Hainai, Nabedache, Nacogdoche, Nasoni, and Nadote, Antonio Barrera was appointed interpreter, because he was a person “understanding with all perfection the idiom of these Indians,” the implication being that they all spoke a single language 3 . Mezières said that the Nabedache, Nadaco (Anadarko), Hainai, and Nacogdoche spoke the same language 4 . Other similar evidence might be cited.

Their main village at the opening of the 18th century and for a long time thereafter was approximately on the site of the modern city of Nacogdoches, where four Indian mounds existed until recently. This place seems to have been called Nevantin. The Nacogdoche were mentioned apparently by the Gentleman of Elvas in his account of the De Soto expedition; but they were first made definitely known by Jesus Maria in 1691, who called them the Nazadachotzi, indicated correctly their location, and classified them as one of the nine Aseney (Hasinai) tribes 5 . It seems probable that the Nacogdoche are distinct from the Aquodocez with whom Pénicaut in 1714 said the Assinaïs were at war 6 . At this time San Denis found the Nacogdoche, Hainai, Nadaco (Anadarko), and others at war with the lower Natchitoch, but he restored peace among them 7 . Espinosa tells its that the Nasoni, whose main village was some 25 miles to the north, were especially closely allied with the Nacogdoche, and came to their village for some of their principal religious observances 8 .

In July, 1716, the Franciscans of the college at Zacatecas established their first Texas mission at the main Nacogdoche village for this tribe and the Nacao. This mission became the headquarters of the president, Fray Antonio Margil de Jesus 9 . In 1719 the mission, like all the others of it Texas, was abandoned through fear of a French attack, but was reestablished in 1721 on the same site 10 . The mission continued to exist long after three of its neighbors had been removed; but it had very little success, and in 1773 it was abandoned. The Spanish settlers, who were removed at this time from Adaes, and at whose head was Antonio Gil Ybarbo, were allowed to settle on the Trinity, founding in 1774 a place which they called Pilar de Bucareli. Early in 1779 they migrated, without authority, to the site of the Nacogdoches mission. The modern city of Nacogdoches dates from this time.

The Nacogdoche were normally within the Spanish jurisdiction, but the French early gained their affection through the unlicensed trade which they conducted with the Indians. The French supplied guns, ammunition, knives, cloth, vermilion, and knickknacks, vermilion for horses, skins, bear’s fat in great quantities, corn, beans, and Apache captives. This trade, particularly that in firearms, was opposed by the Spanish officials, and as a result there were frequent disputes on the frontier, the Indians sometimes taking one side and sometimes the other. In 1733, for example, two Nacogdoche chiefs reported at Adaes that the French had offered them a large reward if they would destroy the Spanish presidio of Adaes 11 . The charge was denied, of course, by the French. Again, in August, 1750, it was said that the Nacogdoche chief, Chacaiauchia, or Sanchez, instigated as he claimed by San Denis of Natchitoches, went to the Nacogdoches mission, threatened the life of the missionary, Father Calahorray Sanz, and ordered him to depart with all the Spaniards 12 . On the other hand, when in 1752 a gathering of tribes was held at the Nadote village to discuss a plan for attacking all the Spanish establishments, the Nacogdoche chief, apparently Chacaiauchia, and San Denis both appear in the light of defenders of the Spaniards 13 Chacaiauchia, or Sanchez, seems to have retained the chieftaincy a long time, for in 1768 Solís tells of being visited at the mission by Chief Sanchez, a man of large following 14

Some data as to the numerical strength of the tribe are extant. In 1721, when Aguayo refounded the mission, he provided clothing for “the chief and all the rest,” a total of 390 15 This may have included some Nacao, and, on the other hand, it may not have included all of the Nacogdoche tribe. It was reported that in 1733 the two Nacogdoche chiefs mentioned above went to Adaes with 60 warriors 16 It is not known whether the warriors were all Nacogdoche or not, but that is the implication. In 1752 De Soto Bermudez inspected the Nacogdoche pueblo and reported that it consisted of 11 “rancherias grandes,” containing 52 warriors, besides many youths nearly able to bear arms 17 Croix’s list of 1778 does not include the Nacogdoche, unless they are his Nacogdochitos, a group of 30 families living on the Attoyac 18 According to a census of 1790, on the authority of Gatschet, the Nacogdoche were reduced to 34 men, 31 women, 27 boys, and 23 girls. Davenport, in 1809, reported the Nacogdochitos as comprising 50 men 19

By 1752 the Nacogdoche pueblo had been removed some 3 leagues northward 20 When this transfer took place is not clear, but Mezicres says that they deserted the mission at once 21 In 1771 Gov. Barrios reported them as still near the Hainai 22 It seems probable that a considerable part of the Nacogdoche tribe was absorbed in the general population at Nacogdoches after the settlement of the Spaniards in 1779, for census reports thereafter show a large number of Indians and mixed-bloods at that place. After this time the remnant of the tribe seems sometimes to appear as Nacogdochitos. Morfi, about1781, located this tribe on the Attoyac. In 1809 Davenport, writing from Nacogdoches, did not name the Nacogdoches in the list of surrounding tribes, but placed the Nacogdochitos on the Angelina, 5 leagues north of Nacogdoches 19 A Spanish map made between 1795 and 1819 shows the “Nacodoches” above where Davenport put the “Nocogdochitos,” i. e., on the east side of the Angelina about halfway between Nacogdoches and Sabine river. 23

In habit, ceremony, and social organization the Nacogdoche resembled the other tribes of the Hasinai confederacy.Citations:

  1. Representacion, July 22, 1716, in Mom. de Nueva España, 160, MS.[]
  2. ibid., 163[]
  3. Jacinto de Barrios y Juaregni, Oct. 30, 1752, in Archivo General, Hist., 299, MS.[]
  4. letter to Croix, Feb. 20, 1778, Mem. de Nueva España, xxviii, 229, MS.[]
  5. Relation, 108, MS.[]
  6. Margry, Déc., V, 504, 1883[]
  7. La Harpe in Slargry, Déc., VI, 193, 1886; see also letter of Macartij, Nov. 17, 1763, Nacogdoches Archives, MS.[]
  8. Chrónica Apostolica, i, 425, 1746[]
  9. Espinosa, Diario, entries for July 5-8, MS., Archivo General[]
  10. Peña, Diario, Mem. de Nueva España, xxviii, 44, MS.[]
  11. Expediente sobre la Campaña, etc., 1739, Archivo General, Provilcias Internas, xxxii, MS.[]
  12. Testimonio de Autos de Pesquiza sobre Comercio Ylicito, 1751, Béxar Archives, Adaes, 1739-55, MS.[]
  13. Testimony of Calahorra y Sanz in De Soto Bernnldez, Report of Investigation, Archivo General, Hist., 299, MS.[]
  14. Diario in Mem. de Nueva Espana, xxvii, 282, MS.[]
  15. Pefia, Diario, in Mem. de Nueva Espana, xxvii, 44, MS.[]
  16. Expediente sobre la Campafla,1739, op. cit.[]
  17. Rep. of Investigation, 1752, Archivo General, Hist., 299.[]
  18. Relation Particular, Archivo General, Prov. Intern., 182.[]
  19. Noticia, Archivo General, Prov. Intern., 201, MS.[][]
  20. De Soto Bermudez, op. cit.[]
  21. Carta, Aug. 23,1779, in Mem. de Nueva España, xxviii, 225, MS.[]
  22. Infonne, 2, MS.[]
  23. MS. Mapa Geognifica de lag Provincias Septentrionales de esta Nueva España.[]

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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